Problem gambling apps

Apps to support people with a gambling problem

There are a number of apps in the app stores that aim to support people with addiction problems including problem gambling. However, very few apps for problem gambling have had professional input during development or have undergone formal evaluation and there are a number of apps that may do more harm than good.

Apps for problem gambling have the potential to provide users with helpful features such as skills to handle urges to gamble, enhance motivation, promote social support and tools to monitor progress. On this page you fill find information on:

Apps and tools that may be helpful

The following are examples of apps and tools that have the potential to help people with a gambling problem. Note: It's important that these apps and tools are used together with other therapies such as seeking professional help.  

App name Description

Gambling Therapy app
 
  • This app has many useful self-help features such as a self-assessment questionnaire, mindfulness and self-help exercises and daily motivational quotes.
  • To work through these features, the app requires user motivation and will which may be difficult for a person with a gambling problem to work through without the support of a professional counsellor or therapist. 
  • The service providers and crisis support information is not applicable to New Zealand users.
  • Read more about gambling therapy app.
Cost2Play calculator This app and online tool can help people understand the long-term costs involved in popular casino games such as slots, blackjack and roulette. It calculates all losses to highlight that even small individual losses can add up. This app can aid with motivation, but it is not a solution.
Self-exclusion (or self-banning) is a voluntary process where a person with a gambling concern excludes themselves from areas of specific gambling venues or online providers. There are also apps available to block iPhone, iPad and Android gambling. Search in the app store for gambling block and see what you can find.

Steps to block gambling content on an iPhone:

  1. The first step is to open up Settings. This can be accessed from your iPhone’s Home Screen.
  2. Next, select General.
  3. Now, you need to click on Restrictions.
  4. If you have already enabled your iPhone’s Restrictions, you will need to enter your Passcode. Otherwise, you need to enable Restrictions, and create a new passcode.
  5. Under the Allowed Content, you need to click on Websites.
  6. The next step is to click on Add A Website. You will see this listed under Never Allow.
  7. The last step is to click Done. The website will now be blocked. 
  8. You can repeat this for all the sites you want to block.
Learn more 

Problem gambling apps that are not recommended

The following are examples of problem gambling apps that are not recommended. These summaries give insight into the sorts of things that make some problem gambling apps unfavourable. 

BetQuit

The aim of this app is to provide fast filtering of online gaming websites on Android devices by becoming the default browser on the device. It aims to prevent users  from accessing online gaming websites by blocking these sites (similar to antiviral software).

Comment (Dr Carlos Lam Yang, GP, East Health Trust)
I would not recommend this app to anyone as it appears to be focused on making money for the developer for what is essentially a browser with some extra codes to block gambling-related websites. Also, if you are seriously addicted, you would not install this app in the first place. Even if you did, you could easily uninstall it again. Also, it does not prevent you from accessing gambling websites on another device or computer. I would advise people not to waste their money on this app.  

Safety concerns

  • Unsure if BetQuit browser also transfers all your settings, passwords and credit card data from your existing browser into its memory bank and provides secure-enough high-level encryption to ensure that it does not get tampered with or hacked. 
  • Unsure where this app was developed – no mention of developers’ names or country of origin. 
  • Cost: $8.99/month on Android, $5/month on iOS. Does not allow free trial with reduced features or time-limited free trial. Multiple spelling mistakes on website. Need to register using Facebook, email or creating an account – does not allow option of being anonymous if you just want to try it out.
Addiction Avert

This app aims to be a self-help tool for clients with gambling addiction. 

Comment (Alice Wang, Project Coordinator, Asian Family Services) 
People with addiction are a very particular population who need lots of motivation to control their behaviour and strengthen their confidence to change. This app doesn’t look like it has enough of this kind of function. The function is not very practical as it is no different from a notebook. I can only see the function of this app as being like a memo. The layout of the app is not presentable. 

The importance of robust evidence: SPGeTTI app

The New Zealand Ministry of Health invested in research into a smart phone app, called SPGeTTI, to support people with a gambling problem, in particular for those using electronic gambling machines (pokies). The app intended to use geo-positioning technology to deliver a behavioural support programme to deliver timely messages at moments of high risk, eg, when the person was close to a gambling venue in Auckland.1

However, during the course of the study, problems arose with poor uptake of the app, technology limitations with regard to geo-positioning and issues such as shame and privacy with regard to others seeing the app on their phone. Despite this, participants indicated ongoing interest in smart phones apps as a tool for supporting people experiencing harm from gambling. 

The results of the research have been used to inform the Ministry's thinking about the policy and use of such technology to promote gambling harm minimisation, and to inform decision making about similar research investments in the future.

This case study shows how important it is that apps for problem gambling get professional input during development or undergo formal evaluation. Read more

Learn more

Online gambling - staying on-guard Choicenotchance

References

  1. Humphrey G, Newcombe D, Whittaker R, Parag V, Bullen C. (2019) SPGeTTI – a smartphone-based problem gambling evaluation and technology testing initiative final report National Institute for Health Innovation, Auckland UniServices Ltd, The University of Auckland. 
Last reviewed: 15 Aug 2019